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Extracted honey is judged on seven categories: appearance and uniformity of containers, uniformity and accurate volume of honey, freedom from crystals or impurities, uniformity of color, color and clarity, flavor and aroma, and density.
Appearance and uniformity of containers
If you've ever competed in anything, you probably understand the importance of "show equipment" - but did you realize beekeepers have "show jars" for their honey? Some honey exhibitors inspect several cases of jars to find three perfect specimens that have no imperfections when competing in a honey show.
Uniformity and accurate volume of honey
All three jars of honey submitted should be filled to the middle of the neck ring. "If you fill below that, you're short-changing your customer, or if you fill it too full, you're giving honey away,Judges penalize points for both."
Freedom from crystals or impurities
Honey judges use a special lighted scope called a polariscope that looks straight into the honey jar. They look for granulation as well as for any impurities such as wood, grass, lint, air or wax. Points are deducted if any impurities or granulation are present in the honey.
Uniformity of color
Judges look at the three jars of honey to see consistent color among the three entries to ensure that the honey came from the same source.
Color and clarity
Honey judges also look to make sure that an entry is in the correct color class. If an entry is an improper color for the entered color class, the entrant receives zero points in the color category.
Flavor and aroma
"Judges look for what a beekeeper did or did not do to make the honey bad, Did they add something to the honey? Did they overheat it? Is it high in moisture? If so, this will be reflected in the taste and smell of the honey."
Honey is also judged for its moisture content. "Bees cap honey at 18 percent moisture. The idea moisture content for extracted honey at a show is 16 percent, "Beekeepers should always strive for 16 percent moisture content, because below that percentage it pours much more slowly, and above 18.7 percent, honey tends to ferment." Judges use a special refractometer that measures the moisture content of honey.
So what makes the best honey?
"It depends. Everyone's taste is different, "I've tasted honey that other people thought was wonderful and didn't like it, but I also have favorites that other people don't like." He notes that there are regional favorites. For example, in Kentucky, Sourwood honey is a local favorite, while in the Cleveland and New York state areas, Buckwheat honey is a hit. In England, Heather honey is the hands-down preferred honey.
BEE HAPPY Jim 134